In a previous article, we briefly discussed the Lord’s Supper, in substance, importance, and instruction, which is outlined in 1 Corinthians 11. We also examined Paul’s definition of what an unworthy practice of the Lord’s Supper is. Here we will examine the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, which in a general sense they refer to as the Eucharist (Greek, “thanksgiving”—thus, the action of thanksgiving to God).

 

The action of receiving the elements (i.e., the actual eating and drinking of the bread and wine) of the sacrament of the Eucharist is called the “Holy Communion”. However, as you will see, the Roman practice of the so-called Holy Communion is anything but a “Holy” Eucharist to God. It is a blasphemous practice that

1) rejects the biblical view that the “once for all time” atoning sacrifice of Christ alone was sufficient for salvation and was the very ground of justification (apart from man-works) and

2) the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation, as explicated hereafter, deforms and dismembers the incarnation of Christ.

 

Transubstantiation

Rome holds to a distinctive doctrine called, Transubstantiation. In short, this Roman Catholic  theological position is where the  priests who preside at the Eucharist (or Lord’s Supper”), “consecrate the bread and the wine so [that these elements actually] become the Body and Blood of the Lord…. By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [hereafter, CCC], 1411, 13).

 

So according to Catholicism, when Jesus said, “This is My body” (Matt. 26:26), and “This is My blood” (v. 28), and “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19), He instituted the so-called Mass,[1] and gave the apostles, and thus, all future Catholic priests, the power to change ontologically (transubstantiate) the bread and wine into Jesus’ literal Flesh and Blood and Divinity of Christ (New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism  [hereafter, BC], vol. 2, Q. 354, cf. also Q. 355; CCC Article 3, para 1413; Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651). [2] But note, this so-called changing of the bread and wine into the actual and literal flesh and blood and deity of Jesus did not, Rome argues, involve a change in appearance or taste. The BC (Q. 348) states: “After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into Our Lord’s body and blood, they remained only the appearances of bread and wine.”

 
Theological Heresies of the Transubstantial Eucharist

 Rome’s doctrine of the transubstantial Eucharist, a) presents a perpetual re-sacrificing of Christ, and b) it deforms and confuses the incarnation of Christ.  

First, the notion of the Eucharist as an ongoing sacrifice clearly,   

 

  • Rejects any idea of a “once for all time” or “finished” atoning sacrifice accomplished by His perfect life and cross work.

 

  • Rejects the sufficiency of the glorious cross work of Christ for both the forgiveness of sins and the averting of wrath due to us because of our sin.

 

  • Rejects the notion that sinners are justified though the death of the Son and not according to works.  

 

Note for example, the repetitious way Rome uses the terms such as “sacrifice,” “re-presents,” “propitiation” defining the effects of the Eucharist:    

“The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ” (BC, vol. 2, Q. 360).

“The Eucharist is also a sacrifice” (CCC, 1365).

“The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross” (CCC, 1366).

“The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice,” (CCC, 1367).

 

The Eucharist, according to Rome, is propitiatory (i.e., forgiving sins and removing the wrath of God): “This sacrifice [Eucharist] is truly propitiatory” (CCC, 1367). “The Church intends the Mass to be regarded as a ‘true and proper sacrifice’” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sacrifice of the Mass”; emphasis added).

Clearly, Rome sees the Eucharist as a “sacrifice,” which is offered through the hands of the priests: “The sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests’ hands” (CCC, 1369, also cf. 1414).

The Roman system of the transubstantial Eucharist is an insufficient sacrifice that is offered continuously by sinful Roman priests. This, clearly controverts and attacks the biblical presentation of the once for all time atoning accomplishment of Christ, as He Himself affirmed—“It is finished.” The Roman “Christ” is not able to save a sinner in and of Himself by grace alone through faith alone—apart from human efforts. Nor is the redemptive work of Christ in Romanism the very ground of the believer’s justification.

Biblically, a sinner is “declared” righteous before God not through works such as water baptism, nor through the sinful hands of the Roman priests in their representing the sacrifice of Christ at the Mass; rather it is through faith alone. Paul rightly says: “just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4:6) “Through the [one time] obedience [atoning work] of the One the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). Neither the church, Mary, Roman priests, nor anything or anyone can mediate between God and man. Only the two-natured person (God-man), Jesus Christ is able to be the Mediator:

“For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).   

 

To emphasize the infinitely completed redemptive propitiatory work of the Christ, the author of Hebrews uses the Greek term ephapax (ἐφάπαξ) which means “once for all” (from epi, “upon” + hapax, “once, one”). Thus (lexically), “Taking place once and to the exclusion of any further occurrence, once for all, once and never again (BDAG), or “upon one occasion only” (Thayer).

The author of Hebrews (and Paul in Rom. 6:10) teaches that the sacrifice of Christ as the eternal priest was ephapax (“once for all time”)—for all other OT priestly systems (Aaronic and Levitical) were lesser, imperfect, and obsolete (Heb. 7:11, 23-28). Note the following passages:   

“who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did ephapax [‘once for all time’] when He offered up Himself (Heb. 7:27).

“and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place ephapax [‘once for all time’] having obtained eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).

“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ephapax [‘once for all time’!].11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10-14). 

The ephapax [“once for all time”] and Paul’s doctrine of justification through faith alone, shows in and of itself that the Roman Mass where the Eucharist is a repetitive propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ is an offensive attack on Christ and His one-time finished atoning work.        

   

Reject the biblical teaching of the incarnation of the Son. The second theological heresy of Rome’s doctrine of Transubstantiation is the deformation of the incarnation of Christ. The Roman Church happily agrees that Jesus became flesh. However, in Romanism, the “flesh” that Jesus became is anything, but normal human flesh and likeness. Because, as Rome teaches, the elements in the Eucharist (bread and wine) actually transubstantiates (viz. changes into the non-figurative literal flesh and blood of Christ). Hence, wherever in the world Catholics are receiving the Eucharist (“Holy Communion”) at the Mass, the literal body and blood is being sacrificed at the hand of the priests. This clearly implies that Jesus’ physical body is ubiquitous—namely, its able to be in multiple places simultaneously!

A ubiquitous anomalous human nature sharply counters the biblical teaching that the eternal Word became the perfect representation of man—not a “hyper-flesh” ubiquitous fleshly body: “The Word became flesh…. being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man” (John 1:14; Phil. 2:7-8).

Rome’s doctrine of the transubstantial Eucharist is an idolatrous practice that mocks and rejects both the substitutionary work of Christ as the alone means of justification and manipulates the biblical view of the incarnation of the Son—who “emptied Himself, taking the form [real nature] of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [not in the likeness of a unusual ubiquitous man]. Being found in appearance as a [normal] man” (Phil. 2:7-8).          

Those who partake in the Roman Eucharist are

1) proclaiming the Jesus of Rome who did not take the nature of normal humanity, and

2) proclaiming the impotent Jesus of Rome whose atoning work was neither sufficient nor perfectly completed. Thus, they would be celebrating that which Paul condemned as anathema (cursed) in Galatians 1:8, 9 (viz. the faith + works system of the Judaizers).

Christians, in stark contrast, proclaim the Jesus of the NT: “Through the obedience of the One [Christ] the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19); “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God”! (Heb. 10:12; cf. Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9).      

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Sola Gratia, Solo Christo, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria

 

See Matthew 16:18: The Plastic Rock of Rome   

 

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NOTES

[1] In Catholicism, the Mass is a celebration of the Eucharist, where Catholics participate together in “Holy Communion.”     

[2] Cf. CCC Article 3, para 1413: “his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity.”

 In support of their erroneous doctrine of Transubstantiation, Catholics appeal to John 6:53-54. However, Jesus had already defined what He meant here back in verse 35, where Jesus refers to Himself as the “Bread of Life” – “he who comes to Me will not hunger [thus, coming to Him is equivalent to ‘eating His flesh’], and he who believes in Me will never thirst [thus, believing in Him is equivalent to ‘drinking His blood’].” Further, unlike the Synoptics, the Gospel John never even records Jesus’ institution of the Last Supper. Further, the historical time frame of the institution of the Lord’s Super would have been not until John 13, which was a different context than that of chapter 6, and at least a year later! In his Commentary on John, Calvin pointed out, “Indeed, it would have been inept and unreasonable to preach about the Lord’s Supper before He had instituted it.”               

8 thoughts on “Roman Catholicism and Transubstantiation

  1. Dr T T Irvine says:

    “Hence, wherever in the world Catholics are receiving the Eucharist (“Holy Communion”) at the Mass, the literal body and blood is being sacrificed at the hand of the priests. This clearly implies that Jesus’ physical body is ubiquitous—namely, its able to be in multiple places simultaneously!” As a former RC missionary priest and now an evangelical ‘born again’ Christian, I read your excellent article. Great work.The RC church DOES teach that Jesus’ “presence” is ubiquitous in the Eucharist. I’ve heard several people state that this means there are millions of Jesus’ all over the world during Mass. This isn’t what the RC church teaches. His presence is all over the world in millions of places. They would claim that, as God is omnipresent, but this doesn’t mean that there are millions of Gods, then Jesus (whom they acknowledge as truly God) also has the same properties as the Godhead and can be “ubiquitous” (omnipresent) without the need to multiply Himself. Jesus is omnipresent in the sense that the Triune God is omnipresent in His ‘Presence’ in the Mass during the rite of transubstantiation. It really is a sleight of hand on the part of the RC church, and they are playing semantics.
    I agree with your aticle.

      • If I read you correctly the same laws of physics that bound Jesus before His Death and Resurrection apply to Him after He had risen and was glorified? So the Scriptures must have been in error when Jesus was able to appear before the Apostles both without and later with Thomas present. That when Thomas placed his hands and fingers in the wounds in Jesus hands and side, he was bound to those laws.
        To claim that Jesus is re-sacrificed by Catholics, is not a teaching of the Catholic Church, regardless of how many times you may want to repeat it.
        As to the supposition that He is re-sacrificed or that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial of a past event, let’s look at the context in which the Last Supper took place. It was the Passover Seder. As a Jew growing up I participated in the Seder annually. At the Seder in my family home, as was true at the Time of Jesus, it was part of the Seder that anyone who participated in the Seder made Anmensis (translated in the Last Supper narrative in English as Remembrance.) But what is the Anmensis really? While one of the translations can be to remember an event from the past, in the context of the Seder it means to make an event from the past present now. We are instructed in the Seder that anyone who participates in the Seder may not say after they have done so, “I am remembering what God did for my forefathers, bringing them out of Egypt. One must (having participated in the Seder) now say I am commemorating that God has delivered me out of Egypt.” God reaches out through time and space and makes present the Exodus for us by our participating in the Seder. The manner is different, but the action of God is the same. So too at the Catholic Mass, instituted at the Lord’s Supper, we make anmensis, that is God makes present for us the Last Supper, in which Jesus Himself tells us that the Cup of Wine is the blood of the New Covenant and makes present for us the actions of Himself on Calvary, so we too may participate in His sacrifice. Not a new and fresh re-sacrificing it, which we would have to do if it was a human action, but the Action of God who like at the Seder, makes past events present.

        • Edward Dalcour says:

          You completely slip and misunderstand the point. Jesus’ literal body was at one place and one time – unlike Rome’s teaching of the transubstantial ubiquitous body of Christ.

          – –
          Please re-read the statements by official Roman sources. You said: “To claim that Jesus is re-sacrificed by Catholics is not a teaching of the Catholic Church, regardless of how many times you may want to repeat it.”

          In your effort to avoid the Rome’s denial of Christ’s one time alone sacrifice for sins in the Roman Mass, you clearly contradict official Roman Catholic sources on this matter. It is Rome that repeats its re-sacrifice and re-presentation of Christ through Transubstantiation.

          One note: your Jewish memorial analogy fails; a memorial signifies something and does NOT actually become that something. Rome asserts that elements of the communion (bread and wine) are not merely memorial signifying the sacrifice of Christ, rather they become the LITERALLY BECOME the sacrifice. Where the priest at the Eucharist, as the CCC states: “Consecrate the bread and the wine so [that these elements actually] become the Body and Blood of the Lord…. By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about” (1411, 13). Note the present tense actions, not merely looking back.

          Hence, at the Mass, it is a PRESENT ontological change “of the bread and wine into Jesus’ literal Flesh and Blood and Divinity of Christ (New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, vol. 2, Q. 354; see Trent: DS 1640; 1651).- – not merely looking back.



          In terms of Rome RE-PRESENTING the sacrifice, it appears that you did not read the article carefully nor did you consider the Roman sources that disagree with you. Note the PRESENT action of Transubstantiation (not merely looking back):

          “The Mass is the SAME SACRIFICE as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ” (BC, vol. 2, Q. 360; caps mine).

          “The Eucharist is also a sacrifice” (CCC, 1365).

          “The Eucharist IS thus a sacrifice because it RE-PRESENTS (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross” (CCC, 1366; caps mine).

          “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist ARE one single sacrifice,” (CCC, 1367; caps mine).

          “This sacrifice [Eucharist] IS truly propitiatory” (CCC, 1367; caps mine).

          Thus, your assertion is wrong and misinformed. Please read all citations that our article provides.

          Your defense is unjustified and clearly misrepresents the official Roman Catholic view regarding this horrible doctrine of Transubstantiation – which denies one time (ephapax) sacrifice of Christ and grossly disforms the body of Christ – denying the biblical presentation of the incarnation.

          • I could if like yourself i tried to deceive misquote, or include partial quotes to make a misleading point. However you have done half the work for me. Why is it that you stop where you do at CCC 1365 and omit the rest of the citation, “The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: “This is my body which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.” In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” which puts into context that the Eucharist at the Mass is the very same as the Eucharist at the Last Supper?

            If you want to make the re-presents into your own meaning, in CCC 1366 you are free to do so, but to represent your mangling of Catholic teaching as Catholic contradicts the Command to bear false witness against your neighbor. You define re-presents as you would like to have the Catholic Church define it, but make it your own interpretation which no Catholic would make.

            CCC 1367 No Catholic who knows the teachings we were handed down by the Apostles, which they received from Christ Jesus Himself would deny that the Mass is a Proprietary sacrifice, but they would deny that it is a different sacrifice than that of Calvary, Instituted by Christ, replacing the OT Temple sacrifices. The Victim and priest at the Mass is the same as the Victim and priest at Calvary. The primary priest at each Mass is Christ Himself, the actions of the sacraments is Christ Himself.

            The use of the Anmensis at the Seder was to show how Jews at the time of Jesus, and even to this day do not consider that by participating in the Seder one simply recalls the Exodus, but must say that even though the manner is different, anyone who observes the Seder must now say, that He himself had come out of Egypt, that by God’s power he too has participated in the Exodus. So I think you have either by ignorance of the Seder, either missed what Anmensis as used in the Passover, and by Jesus when if you read the Greek narrative of the Institution at the Last Supper, Jesus takes the idea that participation in the Seder is participation in the Exodus, not a remembering, or a re-enactment, but a participating in it. Jesus tells us that when we do what he has just done with the wine and bread we are to make Anmensis of Him. You of course have the freedom to reject what Jesus did and Said, and follow the new teachings of the past 600 years which reject what Christians have held, but I’d be wary of it and of presenting Catholic teaching with a different definition than the Church uses.

          • Edward Dalcour says:

            Figures, you avoided the main objections to the of Transubstantiation. The expanded Roman citations do not help your case. You completely ignore the “present” action of what the Roman Eucharist significance. You provide NO response as to the statements, which emphasize this, you merely deny them. Rome states (CCC) says the “sacrifice [Eucharist] IS [not past] truly PROPITIATORY” (caps mine). “Out of context”? The fact is —you have not provided any meaningful response on the main issue, you merely complain about the article taking things out of context, even though you say nothing of what was cited, nor did you even respond to a distorted view of the incarnation in Rome’s awful Transubstantiation doctrine.

            Based on your fleeing avoidance, it seems either you are embarrassed of Roman denial of the one time sacrifice of Christ as the sole ground of justification, Or you just flat out disagree with Rome on this doctrine and embrace your own personal philosophies, which is neither consistent with Christianity nor Romanism.

            Based on your fleeing from response – from the CCC statement that the Eucharist IS (as in NOW) being PROPITIATORY, makes me think that you really don’t understand the lexical semantic of the term.

            The main points: 1) Rome’s Transubstantiation idea grossly deforms the humanity of Christ – making His body ubiquitous (rejecting the NT view), and 2) as Roman doctrine claims (unless you’re going to go against Rome here also), esp. shown in teaching of Transubstantiation as propitiatory, present, ongoing sacrifice, – Rome happily and clearly rejects the ONE TIME (heis, ephapax) propitiatory sacrifice of Christ as the very cause or ground of justification.

            And that (among other Roman docs) is what places Rome outside the Christian faith (anathema). Nothing more to say here. I would suggest for you to read more official Roman sources on Rome’s horrible unbiblical transubstantial-Eucharist (the statements are abounding [I only presented a few], which agree with my understanding, not yours], it may help your understanding of it, And, more importantly, read “scholarly” exegetical works on justification.

          • In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His followers, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” For those who rejected that they could do so and wanted Him to tell them that it was metaphorical, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus’ response to the same rejection of what He said that you seem to have was “Verily, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. They walk away from Him, rejecting what He has told them, saying, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” He did not back off, they who walked away. You can reject what He said, and I accept, and claim that what the Catholic and Orthodox Churches continue to believe from His own mouth is untrue, and call me what you want. But He holds a bit more weight for me.

            The ratification of the Covenant in the OT, with Abraham and Moses was done with Blood. Jesus does not just tell the Apostles at the Last Supper, that this is the Blood of the New Covenant, but that it is His Blood, when He ratifies the New Covenant. Not this is a symbol of the blood I will tomorrow Ratify the Covenant with.

            St Paul who was neither a follower of Christ, nor present at the Last Supper tells us after his conversion “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” How is this done if the bread and cup of the Lord are not what Jesus has given us at the Last Supper and each time we make Anmensis in obedience to His command?

            Jesus’ disciples walk with and talk with Him after He has risen, but do not recognize Him until as the Bible tells us, the breaking of the bread. Then He disappears from their sight, and they are left with what to recognize Him, and know Him, the elements you reject are Him.

            While neither you nor I accept the Didache as inspired Scripture, it is a document that some early Christians did, and even though rejected as Inspired when the Catholic Church determined what books to include in the NT you inherited, provides us with an insight into what the first Christian communities accepted prior to the completion of the books of the NT. We read that the first Christians held, ” On the Lord’s Day, as you come together, break bread and offer the Eucharist, having first confessed your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure”

            Something I did perhaps miss in your rejection of the Real Presence of Christ Jesus in what He instituted is when you make the statement, “Rome’s Transubstantiation idea grossly deforms the HUMANITY of Christ. Using your emphasis by all Caps, Are you saying that Jesus is not True God and True Man, that in the Eucharist, He separates His humanity from His Divinity? The reason we believe that Christ Jesus can do what He stated is that He as the risen and Glorified Christ Jesus, True God and True man, fulfills what He promises, and Glorified is not bound to the laws of Physics you seem to want to bind him to in your statement if now He is a mere human.

            Vague references to “Scholarly” Exegetical works on Justification, are even less helpful in trying to figure out what your rejection of the Biblically supported ideas held by Christians before the Reformation. Who would you hold to be the authors of what you accept as Scholarly… Specifically what did they write that you feels supports your position that Jesus did not mean what He said? If you do have a concern for any souls, my own included, perhaps you can share with anyone reading our exchanges some of these, rather than leaving us all wanting.

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